Counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs

In a study on “Trends in trade with counterfeit and pirated goods” conducted by the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the value of counterfeit and globally traded pharmaceutical drugs was estimated at up to 4.03 billion euros. In particular, antibiotics, lifestyle pharmaceuticals and painkillers are at risk of being counterfeit. In addition, pharmaceutical drugs such as for the treatment of cancer and diabetes, antimalarial drugs, local anaesthetics, cardiacs and HIV medication are regularly seized by customs authorities.

The trade with counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs is further enhanced as these are increasingly being sent in small packages or letters, which makes its detection by customs more complicated. In the period from 2014 to 2016, 96% of all seizures of counterfeit drugs were sent by postal and parcel delivery. The Executive Director of EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, explains:

Counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs not only endanger health but may also be potentially lethal. If they enter the EU through internet orders and sent as parcels, as is so often the case, this will complicate the task of law enforcement authorities. Tackling this issue requires an even greater coordination on national and EU level as well as on a global scale.

India and China are the largest manufacturers of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs worldwide. Singapore and Hong Kong appear to be the most important transit points in the supply chain of counterfeit drugs.

In particular companies and divisions based in OECD countries, such as the USA, Germany, France, Austria and the United Kingdom as well as Switzerland are suffering from counterfeit drugs and merchandise.

Press release of EUIPO of March 23, 2020 and Newsletter of the Chamber of Patent Attorneys 3/20

June 30, 2020
Vanessa Bockhorni
Patent Attorney